I was angered and a bit befuddled by The News editorial blasting Rep. John LaFalce for his efforts to fight the Seneca gambling compact, especially his attempt to ensure that the U.S. Interior Department actually complies with the law in its approval of both the compact and the transfer of state land to the Seneca Nation. LaFalce deserves high praise, not condemnation, for his efforts.
From the perspective of a casino opponent, one of the most frustrating aspects of the compact approval process has been its easy going despite what appear to be straightforward laws prohibiting some of its key features. The State Constitution prohibits casino gambling, yet it has not been amended. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act outlines procedures for establishing Indian-run casinos that were not followed.
The Salamanca Settlement Act has nothing at all to do with casinos, but was used as a back-door way of moving the compact and land transfers along. Interior Secretary Gale Norton admitted as much by approving the compact without any comment, and harshly criticizing the land transfer as a stretch of the law but approving it anyway. Is LaFalce really off base by calling for an investigation?
Criticizing his arguments as "specious" is an endorsement of an end-justifies-the-means approach, which is anathema to ethical government. Considering the track record of casinos and corruption, it is important that any establishment of casinos here be done as ethically as possible.
Moreover, The News' suggestion that the question of a Buffalo versus a Niagara Falls casino can be separated is itself specious because the issues are inseparable in the context of the compact.
LaFalce deserves better than harsh editorials and silly editorial cartoons during his last weeks in office, and his actions on the casino issue demonstrate why.
Chief of Staff for
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt
Member of Citizens
Against Casino Gambling
in Erie County